It’s not a secret that being a world-class athlete has a lot of pros. For instance, researchers discovered that elite athletes have an area of the brain that performs 82% faster than average under intense pressure. No wonder these people are like superheroes for us. But after their retirement, these athletes have to change their lives drastically.

We remembered the most iconic US athletes to see why they became so famous and how their lives are going now.

How 16 Iconic US Athletes Have Changed and What They Do Today

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Tiger Woods became the youngest man — and first black man — to ever win the U.S. Masters, which is one of the most prestigious golf competitions in the world. Recently he took a break from competitions due to injuries, but in 2018 he returned to competitive golf.

How 16 Iconic US Athletes Have Changed and What They Do Today

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So far Michael Phelps is the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time. The Olympic swimming superstar has won 28 Olympic medals!

After retiring from sports, Phelps has dipped into a different phase of his life as a husband and a father of 3 kids. In his retired-from-competition mode he’s focusing on issues like a healthy, active lifestyle, water safety, and broadening the mental health discussion.

How 16 Iconic US Athletes Have Changed and What They Do Today

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We know Lance Armstrong as the only athlete who could win a record 7 consecutive Tour de France races. He appeared on news and TV shows all over the country. But his career was over because of a doping scandal, after he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

After being banned from competitive cycling for life, he’s now building a new media brand. Armstrong’s The Move podcast is currently ranked in the top 10 in the sports and recreation category on Apple’s iTunes, the podcast provides analysis of the stages of the Tour de France and other cycling races.

How 16 Iconic US Athletes Have Changed and What They Do Today

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It would be difficult to find someone who doesn’t know who Arnold Schwarzenegger is. He was a hugely successful bodybuilder and became extremely famous thanks to his acting career. Although Arnie was born in Austria, he became US citizen in 1983, allowing us to call him one of the 16 iconic US athletes.

Currently the bodybuilding legend is 72 years old and instead of bodybuilding he’s busy with his political, entrepreneurial, and, of course, acting career. In October we’ll be able to enjoy his latest film Terminator: Dark Fate.

How 16 Iconic US Athletes Have Changed and What They Do Today

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Being a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys for 10 years merits Tony Romo automatic inclusions on our list of iconic athletes.

After retiring from sports, American football fans still hear about Romo pretty often. Since he started working with the NFL as a broadcaster, he’s become the biggest star in sports broadcasting. Romo’s enthusiasm, knowledge of the game, and ability to communicate clearly and quickly made him a great quarterback and an even greater sports broadcaster.

How 16 Iconic US Athletes Have Changed and What They Do Today

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Billie Jean King became a legend after she defeated the former number one male tennis player in the Battle of the Sexes tennis match. The match attracted a massive amount of attention and was viewed by 90 million people around the world. King’s victory is considered a milestone in the public acceptance of women in sports.

After finishing her career in sports, King is still very active, she’s a Tennis and LGBT Ambassador and fights for equality. Her Women’s Sports Foundation was founded in 1974, and 45 years later it still exists and ensures that all girls have access to sports.

How 16 Iconic US Athletes Have Changed and What They Do Today

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Carl Lewis was called the Olympian of the century by Sports Illustrated and the world athlete of the century by the IAAF. He’s the 9-time Olympic gold medalist and after such an impressive career in sports, he retired in 1997.

The path to post-retirement glory did not always run smoothly for this celebrity, after retirement, he tried singing, acting, and even tried to become a senator in New Jersey but none of these really worked out for him. Since then, Carl Lewis has returned to his old college and started teaching young athletes.

How 16 Iconic US Athletes Have Changed and What They Do Today

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Mia Hamm was the greatest soccer player, man or woman, that the U.S. has ever produced. Thanks to this 2-time Olympic gold medalist, the U.S. team won the first women’s Olympic soccer tournament in 1996.

Now Hamm is still working in the sports industry, but as a coach. She’s a mother of 3 kids and founder of the Mia Hamm Foundation which raises funds and awareness for bone marrow/cord blood transplants, and increases opportunities for young women in sports.

How 16 Iconic US Athletes Have Changed and What They Do Today

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Mary Lou Retton became America’s sweetheart when she performed outstandingly and vaulted her way to the gold medal in gymnastics at the LA Summer Olympics in 1984. Now we can see her on TV shows like Dancing With the Stars. Retton is the proud mom of 4 beautiful daughters and an active charity worker.

How 16 Iconic US Athletes Have Changed and What They Do Today

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She earned her fame together with 3 gold medals in the heptathlon and long jump from 1984 to 1996. She is ranked as the greatest athlete of all time in the heptathlon and the long jump.

Now this icon runs the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, which helps impoverished families in her hometown. Her coworkers say that there might be many famous athletes out there, but there are not many people with a spirit like Jackie’s.

How 16 Iconic US Athletes Have Changed and What They Do Today

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Shannon Lee Miller is a retired artistic gymnastics star. She was the 1993 and 1994 world all-around champion, the 1996 Olympic balance beam champion, and a member of the first empirical gold medal-winning team at the 1996 Olympics, which was called Magnificent Seven team.

After finishing her athletic career she starred in workout DVDs, started dietary supplement business, and wrote an autobiography. Miller also survived cancer and now through her ‘Gold Medal Attitude’ program she empowers, motivates, and teaches women how to overcome obstacles.

How 16 Iconic US Athletes Have Changed and What They Do Today

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Bo Jackson is a retired American former baseball and football player. He remains the only person in history to be named an All-Star in 2 professional sports and thanks to his talent in multiple sports, he was named the “Greatest Athlete Ever” by ESPN.

After retirement the “Greatest Athlete Ever” works as a team ambassador for the Chicago White Sox. He also oversees Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports, a premier complex, which not only does skill training, but also develops the whole athlete.

How 16 Iconic US Athletes Have Changed and What They Do Today

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Willie Mays kept fans excited with a big league career that lasted for over 22 years, with his spectacular defensive skills and powerful bat he became an iconic baseball player in the U.S.

Now he’s 88 years old, so he may be not as active as before, but he’s still busy receiving awards and honorary degrees. For example, in 2015, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama. Additionally, the Say Hey Foundation that he formed in 1972 is still in operation to the present day and helps underprivileged children through education and community support.

How 16 Iconic US Athletes Have Changed and What They Do Today

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Tyson is 53 now and one of the most fearsome men on the planet, the heavyweight champ for more than 3 years in a row has left his boxing career and completely changed his lifestyle.

The former champ still has a busy schedule, he regularly appears on television, and spends his time traveling and taking care of kids. Tyson even published a book not long ago, where he tells the story of his manager who turned a young street thug into boxing’s youngest heavyweight champion at 20 years old.

How 16 Iconic US Athletes Have Changed and What They Do Today

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Carl Banks, is a 2 time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants, a pro bowler, a NFL 80’s All Decade member, and a Michigan State Hall of Famer. Banks is 57 now and he’s a NFL analyst for TV & radio shows and the President of the multi-billion dollar business G-III Sports Apparel.

How 16 Iconic US Athletes Have Changed and What They Do Today

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37-year-old Danica Patrick is a retired American professional race car driver. Working in a male-dominated field is challenging, but Patrick holds multiple records, like becoming the first and only woman to win an IndyCar race. She is the most victorious woman in the American open-wheel racing history.

She retired only a year ago, but her life is as busy as before. She owns a vineyard called Somnium, located in Napa Valley, she started her own athleisure clothing line called Warrior, and se published a book about a health and fitness called Pretty Intense.

How 16 Iconic US Athletes Have Changed and What They Do Today

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McKayla Maroney is the youngest athlete on the list, and she’s 23 now. She may not be an iconic gymnast, but the perfectly timed photo of her being unimpressed with a silver medal in the 2012 Olympics became an iconic meme.

Maroney left the competitive sport and lives in California with her family. She is currently focusing on acting and music.

How would you imagine the life of a famous person after retirement? Which of these stories did you find the most surprising? Let us know what you think in the comments..

Preview photo credit David Gray / Reuters, m_phelps00 / instagram 

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